Hull & Humber is back in the Clipper race

Hull & Humber has resumed racing in Leg 3 of the Clipper 09-10 Round the
World Yacht Race. When the boat slipped from Royal Cape Yacht Club at
9.20am local time (0720 GMT) it was the moment the crew had been waiting
for after being confined to port since their start day collision with
Cork, Ireland which forced them to return to harbour to make repairs.

Teams of boat builders from Action Yachting at RCYC have been working
around the clock to ensure a swift repair and the final sign off from
MECAL, the UK certifying authority authorised by the Maritime and
Coastguard Agency to survey and certificate commercial sailing vessels
such as those in the Clipper fleet, came late last night.

Hull & Humber's skipper Piers Dudin has been at the yacht club every
day, monitoring progress on his charge. “I'm really happy. She's looking
good, really smart and structurally she's even stronger than she was
before,” he said as he prepared to step on board and steer her out into
Table Bay. “Getting into Geraldton in time for Christmas is our goal,
and we'll be able to keep a good measure of that as we go.”

The Race Committee now has the difficult task of assessing penalties and
redress for Cork and Hull & Humber and Piers has officially applied for
redress following the collision on the start line on 22 November.

Out in the Southern Ocean the leaders are closing in on the scoring gate
and it's a nail biting and frustrating time everyone. Focus is at a
maximum on all of the yachts.

Spirit of Australia emerged from stealth mode last night and, although
behind Cape Breton Island in terms of Distance to Finish, the Australian
team is further east and therefore closer to the scoring gate.

Having reported a wind hole yesterday, skipper of Cape Breton Island,
Jan Ridd, has now found more breeze than he dared hope for. “We have
spent the last 24 hours as fully powered up as my nerve allows as we all
sprint towards the gate,” he says. “Towards evening the wind was gusting
above the upper recommended limits for the medium kite but regularly
dying back. It was when the helm really started fighting the boat that I
took the wheel to see if we could hold on to the kite as the speeds we
were achieving were spectacular! As it was getting dark, a couple of
large waves combined with gusts of over 40 knots true wind finally broke
my nerve and had me hastily calling for the kite to be dropped. Again
the crew, in very marginal conditions, did a textbook drop. In these
heavy winds, pulling down a sail as enormous as our medium kite is a
daunting and potentially dangerous task, and they did it without a

Cape Breton Island's excellent 24-hour run has come at the detriment of
Uniquely Singapore and skipper Jim Dobie is feeling the pressure as his
team slips behind the Canadian entry once more.

“Aaarghhhh!!!! Nothing gets clearer!” exclaims Jim. “The fleet just
seems to get more compacted and there is no clear winner for the gate
yet. You can gain on one boat but then another one does better.”

Although the temptation is to push as hard as they can for the scoring
gate, the Singaporean team nearly came unstuck this morning as they
tried to regain the ground they had lost.

“At about 0500 UTC we had been running with the medium kite when a
succession of big swells and an increase in wind sent the boat into a
series of violent rolls,” says Jim. “We nearly ending up in that worst
kite fear of all (apart from man overboard) the dreaded Chinese gybe, an
accidental gybe under spinnaker which causes the boat to broach
violently. Once again, thanks to the quick action of the crew we
achieved a fast drop. So now we're back to poled out Yankee 2 for a
slightly smoother, less dramatic ride – let's hope the slight loss of
speed doesn't harm us at the next sched.”

Eero Lehtinen and his crew on Team Finland also received a bit of a wake
up call yesterday evening, not by a near accidental gybe but by a knock
from a passing whale.

“The mammal kicked the boat's stern area and a strong impact was felt
both down below and on deck,” said Eero. “Seconds after the impact an
impressive whale tail broke the surface making it clear who we were
dealing with. First we got a fright that our rudder was damaged, but
after thorough inspections down in the lazarette and around the steering
system no leaks or any other unusual symptoms were discovered. We had a
slow night taking caution and making sure that everything was in one

“There is always the sunny side to every story and in this case it
actually is all about the sun. We are enjoying lovely Caribbean
conditions – ok slightly cooler – while the boats deeper south are
complaining about wet and freezing weather. Even if not that fast right
now, we at least travel in style!”

Whilst Team Finland makes the most of their Caribbean conditions, the
Caribbean entry isn't having the best of times as the team suffers the
same fate as Cape Breton Island yesterday.

“Crash, bang, whallop go the sails and not because we are in gale force
conditions and mountainous seas. No, it's because we are virtually
becalmed and in the worst kind of sea state with very little wind and a
left over sloppy swell,” says Jamaica Lightning Bolt's skipper, Pete
Stirling. “The wind should start filling in from the north west later
today and steadily build to near gale force conditions by early tomorrow
morning. We have not topped 20 knots boat speed yet on this leg but
hopefully tonight we should see some good surfing conditions and a few
new records set!”

Edinburgh Inspiring Capital were in a celebratory mood yesterday. Not
because they had set a new speed record but because they had created a
new record with a suitably Scottish theme.

“We celebrated St Andrews Day yesterday with a toast,” says skipper Matt
Pike. “Benromach 10 Years Old to wash down the haggis and mash.
Unfortunately the haggis was stowed with the fresh coffee and nobody can
remember where they were put! Still we would like to claim we have drunk
the new 10 year old farther south than any body else!”

Just behind the Scottish entry and praying for the wind gods to show
them some favour is Pete Rollason and his team on California. “I never
thought the Southern Ocean could be so calm,” says the skipper of the
American entry. “I know what Cape Breton Island means about wind holes
in the Roaring Forties! It has been an incredibly frustrating night with
big wind shifts in very light airs.

“The crew is working incredibly hard to wring every last bit of boat
speed out of the conditions and disappointingly the midnight schedule
showed we had lost 6 miles to Edinburgh Inspiring Capital, our next
target. This is the proverbial calm before the storm as tonight we are
looking at facing a force 8 with some rough seas.”

Qingdao has also suffered in the light winds and the team's skipper,
Chris Stanmore-Major, realises his crew needs to be patient. “With
stronger winds predicted in the next few days we will have to wait to
play our hand in the conditions we favour most – big swell, breaking
seas and high winds,” he says. “For now the kite has finally made a
showing, the wind and boat speeds are up and at last we will be holding
those in front.”

Nearly 1,000 miles into their race to Geraldton and the crew on board
Cork are enjoying the Southern Ocean conditions, despite not yet dipping
below 40 degrees south.

“We have sufficient wind and we are blast reaching – hitting close to
130 nautical miles in 12 hours,” says Irish skipper, Richie Fearon. “We
have just shaken out the first reef to give the boat a bit more power
through the waves as the wind has slackened slightly. The mood on board
is great with everyone enjoying the thrills of fast downwind racing and
looking forward to the mysteries that are still to be seen.”

Positions at 1200 UTC, Tuesday 1 December

Boat DTF* DTL*
Cape Breton Island 3031nm 0nm
Spirit of Australia 3033nm 2nm
Uniquely Singapore 3051nm 20nm
Team Finland 3058nm 27nm
Edinburgh Inspiring Capital 3090nm 59nm
Jamaica Lightning Bolt 3106nm 75nm
Qingdao 3152nm 121nm
California 3166nm 135nm
Cork 3972nm 941nm
Hull & Humber 4754nm 1722nm

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